Sunil Karunanayake - A gentle giant | Sunday Observer

Sunil Karunanayake - A gentle giant

It is with a deep sense of sadness and shock that the Thurstan Community heard the sudden demise of Sunil Karunanayake on Sunday May 27, 2018.

Of late, Sunil was not the active person we used to know, full of enthusiasm and the go getter that he was at all Thurstan functions which were many and varied.

Sunil was born on November 8, 1951 youngest of the 6 siblings, to Mr D A and Clara Karunanayke. He entered Thurstan in 1961 to Form1 [ Standard 6 ] from a school in Kamburupitiya, his hometown where his parents were respected school Principals. Sunil was at Thurstan from 1961 to 1971 and after completing his A/Ls wanted to pursue a career in Accountancy.

While at College he was a keen Tennis player, and continued playing tennis as a regular member of the Old Thurstanites’ Tennis Club, and was later the official scorer for Thurstan 1st XI cricket team in the late 60s and early 70s. Perhaps, this may have been instrumental in his keen interest in becoming a sports scribe for the English Newspapers while he was doing his articles for his Accountancy profession.

Sunil received his training at Tudor V. Perera & Company, a leading Accounting and Audit firm at that time. He is a Fellow Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (FCA), Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (FCMA) and also holds an MBA from the Postgraduate Institute of Management at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura.

He is also a qualified “Arbitrator” having successfully completed the Diploma in Arbitration from the ICLP. When he was in UK, he had the privilege to follow a two month course at the training center ‘Four Acres’, in Wimbledon.

Sunil received his first employment opportunity at “Hayleys Colombo” from where he moved on to Brook Bond Ceylon Ltd, an associate company of Uni Levers PLC, and later became the first Sri Lankan to hold the post of Chief Accountant. Sunil played a key role in the Lipton and Brook Bond merger, in which he contributed to a smooth transition.

Veteran business leader Sunil Karunanayake was recognized for his outstanding leadership capabilities by the Institute of Certified Management Accountants of Sri Lanka (CMA).

He received the “Professional Excellence Award 2015” at the Global Management Accounting Summit 2015, on July 27, which was presented to him by President Maithripala Sirisena and International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) President Olivia Kirtley. .

Sunil Karunanayake, until his demise was the Chairman of Alliance Finance Company PLC (AFC).

In addition to his keenness in academics, Sunil was equally interested in sports. He was an Executive Committee member and Treasurer of the Ceylonese Rugby and Football Club, where he was a Life Member, and went on to be the Treasurer of the Sri Lanka Rugby and Football Union as well. He was also a member of the Sinhalese Sports Club.

During his long professional career Sunil served as a Director at the Chartered Institute of Accountancy and as Finance Director at the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd., ( Lake House ).

In 2011 he published a book titled “Business & Corporate Affairs” which received wide patronage. He was a regular contributor on corporate and macro-economic issues to the Sunday Times Newspaper and wrote many articles to College Souvenirs and Magazines.

Sunil was the founder Treasurer of the revamped Old Boys’ Union of Thurstan College in 1979 and was later elected as a Vice President of the OBU.

He was a founder member of the Board of Trustees of the Thurstan College Trust Fund formed in1986. He was the promoter and Treasurer of the Thurstan College Building Fund, set up in November 1985 which was declared as an Approved Charity under the Inland Revenue Act.

He was a member and convenor of the Steering Committee of Senior Old Boys headed by Deshabandu Architect Dr.Surath Wickramasinghe in the mid 80s under the Principalship of late P. S.Gunasekara.

He was also an inaugural member of the Thurstan Annual Dinner Dance Organizing Committee and continued to contribute many articles to the annual souvenir.

Sunil was also a Founder Director of the Thurstan College Swimming Pool Complex Management Company and contributed immensely to the proper management of the financial affairs of the Company for the past 18 years.

He was the custodian of the history of Rugby at Thurstan and wrote many articles to the English newspapers. He also showed a keen interest in Thurstan Cricket and was always present at the Big matches and was a pioneer member and a regular participant for past 44 years.

Sunil married Anarkali an Attorney-at –Law the only child of the late Dudley and Padmini Karunartane and was blessed with a daughter Suvini, currently a medical student.

The Thurstan Community has lost an invaluable friend who always had Thurstan at heart, professionals have lost a capable colleague and the family a loving husband and a doting father.

Farewell sweet Prince our beloved Gentle Giant.

May you attain the supreme bliss of Nirwana

Priya Paranavitane and Bhathiya Seebert,
Thurstan College Trust Fund


I was deeply saddened to hear the sad news of Sunil's demise. He truly was a Gentle Giant! My sincere condolences to his wife (Anarkali) and daughter (Suvini). The Thurstan Community has definitely lost an invaluable friend. May he attain the supreme bliss of Nirwana. Dushy